The sadness of things

Sitting by a window in the library after a less than wonderful weekend, I got totally lost looking at the snow as it changed from light rain to full-on blizzard.


Through glass

A flurry stretches into blankness

Each fluff spins down alone

The shift towards hedonism is definitely something I expected when we first touched on the idea of life being evanescent.  In some ways it seems like a more natural reaction to just go for it if life is so fleeting, and I am actually a little surprised that this reaction didn’t manifest until the Genroku period (Lecture 2/20).  I think the shift in meaning of ukiyo from “the illusory world to avoid” to “the illusive world of fleeting pleasures that one ought to pursue with abandon” (Inouye 70) really encapsulates this major shift/inversion while the continued relevance of cherry blossoms shows that the prevailing cultural attitudes of the time still shared a common foundation with preceding Zen and Buddhist ideology.  At the core, hedonistic pursuits were rooted in the same notion of life being brief and the symbiotic relationship between beauty and sorrow. On one hand, hedonism seems like an amazing way to maximize the happiness of everyone in the world, but these temporary reaches towards fulfillment seem to lead to even further sorrow in most cases.  I can imagine that acting on whims alone could lead to a severe sense of detachment.  It also seems to be a guaranteed way to slip downwards, such as the woman who loved love:  “I let myself be swept away to ruin.  There was no way for me to stem the current” (Saikaku 159). Perhaps accepting oneself as a floating part of the floating world could make this a beneficial life philosophy, but I have a hard time seeing how this form of detachment and pursuit of temporary pleasures could lead to any sense of peace or fulfillment. That said, I think the hedonistic attitude of making the pursuit of pleasure in general a common goal has a lot of value.  It seems that the fact that mono no aware was the heart of Japanese culture led to the “dual structure of an inner and outer dimension, not a moral character which makes a direct connection between consciousness and action” (Takahito 13).  This is a distinct contrast to the preoccupation that many have with morality and the inability of most to consistently uphold values. Though sad in a sense, I think it’s somewhat of a relief not to hold ourselves to higher standards than we can meet and agree that “resigning oneself to the sadness of reality has its own rewards” ( Inouye 85).

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One Response to The sadness of things

  1. However you drew the hair on that monster, it turned out wonderful. It’s thin and frail and kind of terrifying! Here’s hoping you had a nice hedonist weekend.

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